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Daniel Tours America
Handsome Dan I and II, Yale, New Haven, CT
18th Jul 2008
New York City

I went out for my pizza as expected last night, and it was nothing special. What was special, though, was I did not have to wait long to be able to tick off something from my to-do list.  In fact I could tick two off at once.  Not only did I hear an argument between a pedestrian (who'd just crossed illegally) and a taxi driver (who tooted) (tick one), the pedestrian launched into a tirade of swearing (tick two) without a pause after the toot. New Yorkers' vocabulary is as small as their patience is short. (On Friday I was also able tick of "don't worry about it" from my list - a workman suggested I climb on a truck to get a better vantage point for a photo, I declined, citing that it was not my truck..... "dohn worry a-bow-dit"

I wondered down 8th Avenue, through Chelsea and Greenwich Village until the road became Hudson street, at which point I walked to the Hudson to look at New Jersey.  From there I went along House-ton (Houston) street til the roads returned to a retarded sequential naming system when I entered Alphabet City. 

Tired, I went back to the Chelsea Star hotel and chatted with a computer expert attending the national hacker convention.  I wish I could go but the time needed, and cost of the tickets, was above what I could allow.


Today, Friday, I went all over Midtown:  up 8th to Times Square.  Although every single building so far is at least 4 storeys high, meaning I always had my head to the sky, Times Square is where they get really high, and become covered in so many electronic billboards that is makes Piccadilly Circus look like an optician's test board.

From Times Square I went through Bryant Park where there is a cool outdoor reading room, rather like a mobile library in a park.  I assumed it was free, as I could not determine a way of charging people.

As I passed the very grand New York Public Library I had an urge to test just how extensive their catalog is.  I wanted to see whether they had a 1965 book that'd I'd been unsuccessfully awaiting on back-order from Amazon.  Wow, this library is huge.  It took me 3 flights of stairs, three rooms and 10 minutes before I actually saw a book.  First one has to seek the book on the computer, and write down its shelf position.  Then one tenders the ticket to the librarian, who puts it in an air-tube down to the vaults.  One then must register for access (ie get a library card) and then wait for the book to be sent up from the basement.  It took 25 minutes to get my hands on my book, but I was impressed that they actually had it.

Grand Central station was next, simply to look at the main hall.  New York seems to have only two main stations, but each is enormous and serves several cardinal directions.  Compare this to London's many stations that serve only one direction each. On the ceiling of the station is a back-lit map of the heavens.

From here I walked to the East River and to the United Nations.  After officially leaving the United States and entering international territory, I was rather miffed to have been charged NY sales tax for my tea and danish, but oh well.  I thoroughly enjoyed my tour of the facilities, despite it being more crowded than ATL airport at Christmas.  We saw the security council room.  Did you know that there are 15 seats on the council, 5 permanent for the 5 founding members of the UN (US, UK, CN, FR, RU) and 10 rotating for all other 187 members to share.  This is grossly unfair, and is made more unfair in that these members have ultimate veto of any motion.  A majority of 9/15 votes is needed, but of those 9 all 5 founding members must pass it and a single no cancels the entire motion even if all 14 other seats vote yes.   Pah. 

We also saw the main debating chamber even though it was in session, and I was told off for taking a photo.  The pic is blurred as I did not stop walking but you can make out the delegates.  No-one famous though. 

I thought I had spotted a boo-boo in that Taiwan's flag was flying outside the complex.  I snapped it and showed it to our guide and demanded an explanation, and he could not give one.  It turns out that Myanmar's flag is almost identical and this was my error.  I identifed it my the adjacent flag, Mozambique, from its AK47 motif. 

From the UN I went to the Rockefeller Center, which is again nothing special.  Just a tall building with a bunch of shops at the bottom, but I was able to see the famous street side studio of The Today Show where I had thought that Laura had previously appeared (she was actually on Good Morning America in a similar setting).  Sadly it held little appeal for me today as I have never actually seen the show.

Taking the subway this evening I realised that "the little things" are really starting to piss me off.  Things that are perhaps not as good as the could, indeed should, be are now getting under my skin, whereas a few months ago I would have perhaps said, vive la difference.   For example, New York's metro system has only a few lines, although the different branches of these are each assigned their own extremely helpful name (A, B, C, 1, 2, 3, etc).  When in the subway the platform has very little information about where you are, where you're going, etc.  For example you can see in one of the pics a "47" on the wall.  That's it.  One is supposed to know that this means you're at the "Forty-Seventh Street and Sixth Avenue station".  But one still doesn't know which line nor which direction.  Contrast this to the far superior London Underground, where one can see on a single huge chart in on the wall of each platform where one is, which line one is one, in which direction one is headed, how far along the line one is, what other lines are available at this stop.  Pah.  That really got on my tits today.  Perhaps it's simply travel fatigue.

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Diary Photos

Handsome Dan I and II, Yale, New Haven, CT

Trash, NYC

Pizza, NYC

NYC from the Hudson

Police "interceptor", NYC

Madison Square Garden, NYC

Water tower, NYC

Times Sqaure, NYC

Times Square, NYC

Open air library, NYC

Awaiting my book, New York Public Library

New York Public Library

Chrysler Building, NYC

Grand Central Station, NYC

Inside Grand Central Station, NYC

The United Nations, taken from NYC

Butros-Ghali, Annan, Moon; United Nations (NYC)

Security Council chamber, United Nations (NYC)

Translation-o-phone, United Nations (NYC)

AK47 guitar, United Nations (NYC)

Actual United Nations session, NYC

Trump Tower, NYC

Rockefeller Center, NYC

"The Today Show" studio, NYC

Is it really still that long? NYC

Unhelpful NYC subway station walls

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